In an interview released on Wednesday, Bishop Steven Lopes castigated his fellow bishops and cardinals for denying that they knew of disgraced cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s alleged sexual abuse of seminarians and adolescents before it was revealed this year.
“I’ll tell you what response I think is not good enough. It’s the parade of cardinals and bishops who have rushed to the television cameras clutching their pectoral crosses, saying, ‘I knew nothing,’” Lopes said in a recording posted on Twitter by Matthew Schmitz, senior editor of First Things. “I don’t believe it, and I am one of them. I don’t believe it.”
Lopes, the bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, said that McCarrick frequently visited his former seminary for nefarious purposes that were commonly understood by all who served there.
“Because as one of the youngest bishops in the conference, you do get an interesting perspective, like, for the fact that I was a seminarian when Theodore McCarrick was named archbishop of Newark. And he would visit the seminary often, and we all knew,” he said.
In an eleven-page report released earlier this month, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò alleged that at least 32 high-ranking church officials conspired to cover up outstanding abuse allegations leveled against McCarrick. The report further claims that Pope Francis lifted sanctions imposed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI and restored him to a place of prominence within the Church, despite having been made aware in 2013 of the allegations against him.
Pope Francis has refused to address the allegations, while some of the high-ranking prelates named in the report, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington and Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, have denied knowledge of McCarrick’s alleged abuse.
Many high-profile Church figures and sympathetic members of the media have cast Viganò — who has criticized Francis’s apparent willingness to soften Church teaching on homosexual behavior — as politically motivated.